House with Shops and Flats (Otrokovice)

Date 1938
Architect Vladimír Karfík
Trail Otrokovice
Code Z12
Address Tylova 950, Otrokovice
Public transport Public transport: Otrokovice, Společenský dům (TROL 2; BUS 55, 70)
GPS 49.2142467N, 17.5143633E
A building with shops and apartments built in 1938 on the south side of the Baťov central park square was connected to a department store opened two years earlier. The design of both buildings was prepared by the architect Vladimír Karfík, so they intertwine very inconspicuously and together create a continuous sales block bordering the main rest area of the new factory unit. In the second half of the 1930s, Vladimír Karfík worked concurrently on a number of projects for Baťov (Social House from 1936, swimming pool from 1938, general school from 1935, town school from 1937). In 1938, he filled a vacant plot adjacent to the department store with a building with shops and apartments thus introducing the popular interwar concept of an apartment building with business premisses on the ground floor and residential floors above.

The three-storey L-shaped building is only slightly lower than the adjacent department store. In this building, the round columns of the skeleton structure are visible only on the ground floor, while the other two residential floors are characterised by brick façades. The ground floor is dominated by full-scale display windows with entrances to individual stores. They were complemented by advertising strips with the same graphic design as the department store. Corner sections towards tř. Spojenců gained unprecedented transparency thanks to generous glazing. The post office was located here. The cornice running around the sales floor seamlessly connected with the cornice of the neighbouring department store and took on its dynamic form.
The façade of the upper floors gains rhythm through alternating loggias with small two-part windows with ventilation flaps. The loggia with a subtle railing and the windows are accentuated by short strips of plastered cornices. The architect rounded the corner of the house towards the square and placed one of the loggias on each floor. Windows or, in this case, loggias going across the corner of the building, appear more often in Karfík's work (for example, in Mr. Gerbec's house in Zlín). They bear the influence of his American practice with Frank Lloyd Wright. The façade facing the courtyard was divided by the entrances to the residential areas and the vertical strips of staircase windows flanked on the sides by loggias and large windows of the sales areas on the ground floor. In the first module field next to the department store, a monumental window spanning two floors, also bordered by round columns, was inserted, which, according to the project documentation, was supposed to illuminate the premises of the confectionery. According to Karfík's plans, the store occupied 3 floors accessible via a staircase leading along the dividing wall.
According to the period press, Otrokovice tradesmen were very interested in sales premises of various sizes. After opening in the autumn of 1938, a number of establishments were put into operation, which significantly expanded the comfort of citizens in respect to trade and services - bookstore, stationery, barber shop, furniture and parquet floors, photographer, photo equipment, and others. 
Three two-room apartments with balconies were available on each floor in three apartment sections; the entrances to the apartments were located in the centre of each section. Two of them – mirrored opposite apartments in the corridor – had living rooms with access to the balcony, kitchens and bathrooms facing the courtyard, and bedrooms facing the square. In the third apartment on the floor, sandwiched between them, both living rooms faced the square. From the bedroom and the living room in this apartment, it was possible to step out onto a spacious loggia, where the windows from the kitchen and the bathroom with a bathtub opened. The fourth corner section offered only two apartments per floor with more luxurious dimensions. One of them was three-room, with an extra bedroom for children. The second three-room apartment was the most generous in the whole house. The bedroom and children's room were complemented by a spacious living room, a dressing room, a pantry, and two loggias, including the spacious corner one. In the basement there were cellars for individual apartments, small storage areas for shops, a laundry room, and a machine room.
The building with shops and apartments has preserved its former commercial and residential function, as has the original architectural concept, which is not disturbed by additional extensions or by covering the façades with contemporary materials. The façades have been preserved in an authentic state, but a number of partial details have disappeared, such as the windows with wooden frames in the floors with flats, the post office's rectangular glazing and continuous strips illuminating the staircases above the entrances to the apartment areas. Modern elements lack the lightness, purity and artisanal quality typical of functionalist aesthetics. The previously cultivated and uniformly executed graphic design of advertising signs in stores was replaced by a chaotic mixture of visual styles. The space in front of the stores is now defined by parking spaces. 
Before the start of the Second World War, the architect Karfík had already outlined in a building with shops and apartments the typology of multi-storey apartment buildings without a commercial ground floor, which began to dominate the environment of the company town in the period after 1945. The modified type of three-storey residential houses from the Zlín Obeciny housing estate according to Karfík's design appeared in two copies also in Otrokovice on the tř. Spojenců and Školní streets.